Gadget Spot: iPhone chargers

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Keeping your iPhone or iPod fully charged is a big job, but luckily there are plenty of devices to help.

Apple offers their USB power adapter and an optional dock. We've already introduced you to alternate options like the Mophie Juice Pack Air, iHome's Dual Alarm Clock Radio and Powermat.

Depending on my mood and the circumstance, all five of those options supply "juice" to my three iPhones. I recently added two more power supplies to this mix - Novothink's Surge for iPhone ($80 at and the RichardSolo 1800 for iPhone ($70 at

Novothink has the more unique of the two devices: a hybrid solar charger. Since the Surge doubles as a protective case, you merely slide in your iPhone or iPod and the gadget is smart enough to know when additional power is needed - and when to stop charging so your iPhone doesn't overheat.

Straight out of the box, I'd advise you attach the Surge to a USB connection for its first charge, which amounts to 105 percent of your Apple gadget's power capacity.

Embedded into the back of the Surge is a solar panel that can capture light from the sun or a lamp (an ordinary 60-watt bulb was enough to generate an additional charge) and convert it to energy.

Mine indicated it was being refreshed when I was walking outside or driving my car - or when it simply sat under a lamp. A free app from the iTunes store advises you on how much light exposure is needed to keep your gadget fully powered.

The good news: At 2.8 ounces in weight, the Surge adds little heft to your iPhone/iPod. The bad news: The volume and mute buttons on the side of the iPhone aren't easy to access while using the Surge.

The RichardSolo 1800 is a more conventional charging source. It plugs into an electrical outlet, car charger or the USB port on a computer to gather its full charge. As your iPhone runs low on power, you attach the RichardSolo 1800 to the connector at the base of your iPhone for a full battery charge.

While you can use your iPhone/iPod with the RichardSolo 1800 attached, frankly, it's a bit awkward to do so. But with a built-in LED flashlight and laser pointer, the 1800 is a handy gadget to carry with you at all times.

Coming Soon

My TiVo Premiere, the next-generation DVR, arrived earlier this week. I'll report on that gadget next week. By the following week, I should have received my iPad with 3G connectivity. Expect to read about that gadget in two weeks.

Got a gadget question or a high-tech toy to recommend? E-mail